Category Archives: Science

Where is Technology Headed?


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I love answering the questions you send in – especially when they are broad ones that have no right answer. This way, all of you can chime in with your thoughts, as well! Frank recently sent me a set of three excellent questions, so I thought I would answer those today.

Do you think there will ever come a time when we hit a wall with tech – and nothing more can be made? In a nutshell – no! It’ll never happen, I guarantee you. Anyone who says otherwise, doesn’t really understand the nature of technology. Faster and more pervasive things are always going to be on the horizon. Imagine walking into somewhere, and having no access to the Internet! It’s everywhere. If you had told me when I was a kid that I’d be able to access this type of information instantaneously, I’d have laughed at you. Every year, there is something new and cutting edge. Technology is always going to evolve.

Do you feel people really appreciate technology, and the effort that goes into creating something innovative? I do… but I also realize that everyone is a critic. The Internet has given rise to any number of people who think they know what they’re talking about. You know the ones – the people who believe they know everything, and illustrate their ignorance when they try to prove it! As individuals, we are very egocentric. We want things on our terms. We take technologies for granted these days. I appreciate technology – but I do know that I take it for granted as much as the next person. It’s just *there*. Not enough praise is given to the people who make something. If you’re going to rant about something, take the time to be constructive.

What about technology is important to you, and what is it that makes you want it more? It’s changed over time. As I’ve grown older, I have different needs. I think the bottom line is discovering what a piece of software can do for me, or a service, or even hardware. I want to find something I couldn’t do before! I go through epiphanies. I try to excite myself with excitement over the power of change, and of communication.

This is something I’ve made a large part of my conference Gnomedex, which is coming into its ninth year this August! I’ve given it the title “Human Circuitry”. It’s the meeting of technology and humanity into a nexus of sorts. That’s what defines us, or is beginning to define us, and change our world. Technology is not always bad, but can be used for nefarious things as we all know. You have to take the bad with the good, in the hope that the good will far outweigh the bad.

It’s the good in technology that keeps me happy and excited for more! Feel free to post a comment or video response to any or all of these questions!

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SecondLight: Bringing the UI into the Real World


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SecondLight is a new surface-computing technology that can project images and detect gestures in mid-air above the display, in addition to supporting multitouch interactions on the surface.

The SecondLight technology adds another dimension to Surface. It allows users to slide “magic lenses” over the display to give you another surface that can be linked to the first. Microsoft researchers projected a picture of a car on the Surface display. When they added separate, moveable pieces of glass, a wire frame model was seen!

Normally, the Surface display serves as a projection screen. But SecondLight’s optical switch rapidly flips the display between translucent and clear. This tricks your eyes into seeing both images projected onto the “magic lenses”, which act as projection screens.

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Interactions with an Omnidirectional Projector


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This is a hemispherical dome in which users can interact with data from Virtual Earth and WorldWide Telescope. This was done using a regular projector and a wide-angle lens – and Microsoft technologies!

The Ominidirectional Projector allows you to control 360 degrees of data displayed on the ceiling and walls with voice and hand gesture commands. The system is designed to be simple and easy to build. The entire system is composed of a projector pointing upwards in the center of the room. Around the lens are IR camera sensors that can detect the hand signs that the user makes. By making hand puppets above the projector’s lens, a user can control the world around him.

The most popular program being displayed with the projector is an interactive virtual display of the Galaxy. The user is capable of flying past stars and zoom in on planets or even zoom out to show the entire Milky Way or even zoom out to the Big Bang.

Unfortunately, the Omnidirectional Projector is still in development stages, but Microsoft intends to make the system be able to work in a standard room instead requiring a domed room.

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How to Create an Awesome Twitter Profile Background


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Do you Twitter? If so, then you know you can tell the World what you’re doing in 140 characters or less. Many people who tweet have jazzed up their home page background on Twitter. Do you know how to amp up yours? All you have to do is head over to my tweet space and create yourself a great-looking background in minutes – for free!

Choose your style, create your badge, and then update your profile. There are over 100 premade templates to choose from. Choose your badge style, and then enter all of your information – or at least as much as you are comfortable with sharing on Twitter!

You can add your own personal comments, and various profile links for different sites. When you’ve entered everything, choose your fonts and text color, and then preview your layout! Save your background and then upload it to Twitter! That’s all there is to it.

Thank you to everyone who follows me on Twitter, and to all of you who followed me during the making of this video, to get me past the 29,000 subscribers mark!! You guys rock.

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How to Win a Zero G Flight Giveaway

Remember when I went flying in Zero G a few months ago? It was so much fun, I convinced Symantec to sponsor a ticket for ONE of you, too! This is finally your chance to experience the feeling of zero gravity for yourself. Fly Zero G and rule the Geekosphere!

To qualify for this giveaway, you must:

  • be registered on geeks.pirillo.com
  • have received at least twenty five (25) comments to their profile on Geeks
  • have at least twenty five (25) Profile followers on Geeks
  • have given at least forty (40) Profile comments to other Geeks on Geeks
  • have created at least 10 Original Blog posts with 100 words or more on Geeks
  • have commented in at least ten (10) Blog posts made by other Geeks on Geeks
  • have uploaded or embedded at least ten (10) Videos on Geeks
  • have submitted at least 10 Original Events on Geeks
  • have responded to at least twenty (20) Forum posts on Geeks
  • have created at least five (5) Forum threads on Geeks
  • have actively participated in at least 5 Groups on Geeks
  • have invited at least ten (10) friends to join the Geeks community (with legitimate email addresses) through Geeks
  • be subscribed to the YouTube Channel at http://youtube.com/lockergnome
  • at all times have been in compliance with the Geeks terms of service: http://geeks.pirillo.com/main/authorization/termsOfService?noBack=1

Act quick: the deadline is on January 10th. Official rules are posted here (if you had specific questions, they’re likely answered therein).

Zero Gravity Flight: Prize includes round-trip, coach class air transportation for one (1) from any airport in the U.S. to launch city departing February 20, 2009 and returning February 22, 2009; one (1) standard hotel room for two (2) nights/three (3) days; ground transportation to and from the airport; ground transportation to and from the Zero Gravity Flight launch facility; and meals. Approximate retail value (“ARV”) up to $7,500 USD, depending upon winner’s point of travel origin and airfare fluctuations at the time of taking the trip. Any differences between stated and actual value will not be awarded. Selection of airline and hotel are solely within Prize Provider’s discretion. All other expenses not specifically mentioned herein are solely the winner’s responsibility. Expenses related to acceptance and use of the prize and not specified herein are the sole responsibility of the winner. All travel must be taken on dates specified; no alternative travel dates are available or prize will be forfeited and may be awarded to an alternate. All travel subject to availability and restrictions. Winner must sign and return a travel release before any ticketing of travel occurs. Winner is solely responsible for obtaining all necessary identification and/or governmental travel documents (e.g., a valid U.S. driver’s license, passport, etc) required for travel to launch city. (Approximate Retail Value: $7,500 USD).

Where can you Watch Severe Weather Videos Online?

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I love living in the Seattle area, because I’m a big fan of overcast skies. This is in sharp contrast to my home state of Iowa, where’s there’s severe weather of all types nearly every other day. Severe weather is terrifying, to be sure. However, it’s also beautiful and many people love to see it on video. Severe weather is just not for me, though. Growing up, I was deathly afraid of tornadoes and storms. Seriously, I even had nightmares sometimes.

We have so much technology today to connect us with people all around the world. While I don’t like being caught in the middle of a storm, I don’t mind watching them online. We have a couple of storm chasers in our chat room who have shared severe weather tips with us. Now is an excellent time of year to read back through that post, too.

Anywho, UncleJohn is one of our halfops in the Chat room. He pointed me towards a site the other night where I can remotely chase storms if I was so inclined! I had to zip over to check out Severe Studios. Man, this is amazing. At the time I pulled it up, you couldn’t even see Oklahoma and Iowa. They were covered in red and orange and green, due to a nasty band of storms.

According to the coordinates that the chasers sent out, we could pinpoint their location and follow along with the developments. You can either watch live as they are chasing, or visit old chases. There is a lot of amazing footage, to be sure.

One of the reasons I am able to do my videos is thanks to WeatherBug. They are one of our sponsors, and also help to embed the current outside temperature into the upper left corner of my videos. They actually have a WeatherBug blog on Lockergnome now. You can go there and ask any questions you have, or keep up with their latest news. Matt Hartley has been posting quite a lot of information on the API, and how it is used. WeatherBug has been asking for creative uses of their API. I’d love to see more desktop programs that can do cool things, like you can with Google Earth. It would also be really cool to see like a mash-up of severe weather videos and/or sites.

If you know of any other cool desktop programs or websites related to weather or storms, make sure you drop me a line. And of course… with all the severe weather in the US right now, I hope you stay safe.

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